It is no secret APSU is involved in many rivalries on and off the court. The best known is that of APSU and Murray State. Simply put, when the Racers and the Govs play, the mood changes.
The Lady Govs were coming off a difficult, five-set loss to SEMO when they took the court on Saturday, Oct. 8, against the Murray Racers. As expected, the mood changed thoroughly.
However, what was not expected was for the two teams to make history. It took 43 points in the longest third set in OVC history for the Lady Govs to sweep the Racers, 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 43-41).
It appeared as if the Racers were going to push the match into a fourth game when they had set point ahead of the Lady Govs, 24-20. However, the Lady Govs fought off five set points, scoring four to tie the set at 24. That was when the game became a marathon.
The two teams ended up exchanging the lead 10 times in addition to producing 27 ties. From 30 to 35, 40 and inevitably 43, the match ultimately the came down to who flinched first. Like the two sets before, it was Murray who blinked, adding more fuel to the already blazing rivalry between the two schools.
“We work on it all the time,” said head coach Bill Egbert. “We work on just fighting, not looking at the score and playing every point for every point. They are really starting to take that to heart and are starting to execute well with it. That’s why we were able to push at the end there.”
The Lady Govs produced 23 kills and seven blocks in the third set alone. They finished the match with 58 kills and 13 total blocks. Junior outside hitter Nikki Doyle led the Lady Govs, who scored double-digit points, with 17.5.
Doyle made 15 kills and finished the match with a .519 attack percentage. Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Henderson scored 15.5 points and led the team with 6.5 blocks. Senior outside hitter Ilyanna Hernandez and freshman outside hitter Jada Stotts both scored 13 points.
The dramatic third set was the end of a long day for the Racers. The Lady Govs completely dominated the first set. They took the lead on an early 4-0 run and controlled the rest of the game. Stunned, the Racers fell behind by as much as 10 points and never got closer than five.
The second set was more competitive, but it was the Lady Govs who asserted their dominance again late in the game. The Racers were ahead 16-13, when the Lady Govs made their run. They outscored the Racers 7-1 to take a 20-17 lead they did not relinquish.
The Racers improved from a dismal .098 to a .161 attack percentage in the second set. Comparatively, the Lady Govs produced .326 and .216 respectively in the two set wins.
“We are playing some of our better volleyball right now and it is really fun to watch,” Egbert said. “We are finally starting to click. We have a lot of young kids combined with a lot of seniors and upperclassmen, so it has been a process getting everyone working together as a unit and it is finally starting to click.”
The win improves the Lady Govs to 3-6 in the OVC. They have only four matches at home remaining this season. The next will be on Friday, Oct. 14, against UT Martin. The Lady Govs will play Murray State again at Murray for the last game of the regular season. TAS